National’s Simeon Brown is welcoming the Chief Ombudsman’s investigation into Corrections over prison conditions, saying it boils down to a lack of leadership from its Minister Kelvin Davis.
National’s Corrections spokesperson said Peter Boshier, essentially, had been forced to step in to do Davis’ job.
Brown said it was “frankly unacceptable” that assaults on Corrections officers were on the rise, while the rehabilitation of inmates was falling.
“These are all important issues, and Kelvin Davis has been missing in action in the Corrections portfolio for far too long.”
Boshier announced the "systemic investigation" into Corrections this morning.
He said he'd not “seen significant and sustained improvements to prisoners’ welfare and rehabilitation" in many areas.
"This is despite concerns about conditions being raised by me and others at different levels of the department, and report after report being released calling for change,” he said.
"I simply want to know why."
Davis, a former principal, characterised the investigation like the Education Review Office going into schools to make recommendations to see how it could do better.
He said he “welcomed” the review, and hoped it also highlighted the “good things” Corrections was doing.
For example, the country’s prisoner numbers had dropped, he said.
When asked if there were structural issues within Corrections, Davis said: “I will wait for the outcome of [Boshier’s] report.”
Davis said Corrections had acted on previous reports that had asked for change in its practices.
This morning, Corrections said it would stop handcuffing expectant mothers who're nearing labour or giving birth. The move followed two reports by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, which found multiple incidents of mothers being restrained before, during and after labour.